Tags: Edward Snowden | NSA/Surveillance | Edwin Snowden | vindication | NSA | USA Freedom Act

Guardian: Passage of USA Freedom Act 'Vindication' for Snowden

Image: Guardian: Passage of USA Freedom Act 'Vindication' for Snowden
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By    |   Wednesday, 03 Jun 2015 12:40 PM

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who is currently living in exile in Russia after leaking classified U.S. government information pertaining to surveillance activities, may never be able to return to his home country without facing jail time.

Trevor Timm writes in the Guardian that although Snowden was the "catalyst" for reform on the NSA's spying practices that hit a high point with Tuesday's passage of the USA Freedom Act, he still broke federal laws and could spend years in prison if he steps foot on U.S. soil again.

"The passage of the USA Freedom Act is quite simply a vindication of Edward Snowden, and it's not just civil libertarians who have noticed: he's forced even some of the most establishment-friendly commentators to change their opinions of his actions," Timm writes. "But it's a shame that almost everyone nonetheless ignores the oppressive law under which Snowden was charged or the U.S. government's outrageous position in his case: that if he were to stand trial, he could not tell the jury what his whistleblowing has accomplished."

On Monday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the charges against Snowden still stand despite Congress electing to change the NSA's domestic spying practices.

"The fact is that Mr. Snowden committed very serious crimes, and the U.S. government and the Department of Justice believe that he should face them," Earnest told the Guardian.

"That's why we believe that Mr. Snowden should return to the United States, where he will face due process and have the opportunity to make that case in a court of law."

Timm argues that members of Congress who fought for reforms at the spying agency should give credit to Snowden for making them aware of the NSA's activities.

"Sadly, even those in Congress who were campaigning for stronger NSA reform than the bill that passed the Senate are afraid to directly credit Snowden and, in many cases, still condemn him," Timm writes. "Some cling to the erroneous belief that Snowden should come back to the U.S. if he's really a whistleblower because he could 'tell his story to a jury.'

"But since he was charged under the draconian Espionage Act — a World War I-era statute meant for spies, not leakers — Snowden would not even be able to utter the word 'whistleblower' in court, let alone tell a jury why he did what he did. Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg explained in great detail how any evidence Snowden wanted to bring up to a judge would be ruled inadmissible, thanks to the incredibly restrictive way the Espionage Act is written.

"And don't kid yourselves when the White House talks about bringing Snowden to 'justice'; his case has never been about 'justice' when it comes to leaking government secrets to journalists. As U.S. officials have shown repeatedly over the last year, they will happily leak classified details to newspapers more sensitive than what Snowden leaked if it means glorifying and defending their policies."

Timm argues that without Snowden, there wouldn't be any sort of debate about surveillance of U.S. citizens.

Former House Intelligence Chairman Pete Hoekstra told Newsmax TV last month  "Snowden is still a traitor."

"Congress knew all about this program," Hoekstra told "The Hard Line" host Ed Berliner. "We were well aware of what the executive branch was doing. We were involved in oversight — and Congress authorized this program and authorized it repeatedly.

"Edward Snowden is still a traitor to the United States. He was one on day one when he released this information. He still is today."

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Trevor Timm writes in the Guardian that although NSA leaker Edward Snowden was the "catalyst" for reform on the agency's spying practices that hit a high point with Tuesday's passage of the USA Freedom Act, he could spend years in prison if he steps foot on U.S. soil again.
Edwin Snowden, vindication, NSA, USA Freedom Act
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Wednesday, 03 Jun 2015 12:40 PM
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